There are times when I look at this city from within itself and see nothing but a ghostly empire—luminescent, haunted, already fading. The views of grand palaces that dwarf Versailles; the limpid ponds and vigorous squirrels; the dancing sunlight; the autumn coolness in the air; the lethargic tourist families, collapsed on each other, eating hot dogs and ice cream, nestled under subway maps.
And something in me leaps a hundred years ahead, or back, and I become a traveller from a different time—some kind of cosmic voyeur. And to see leaves turn red from the tips as though dipped in blood, to hold chestnuts, smooth and fragrant, in the cool cup of my palm. And to watch an endless procession of persons marching past, all missing the view; I am alone here, hidden in the dappled shade, hidden in the notebook on my lap, hidden from the day and the night in this middle kingdom of evening.